Launched in 2015, the Primera Mirada competition at the International Film Festival of Panama has focused on boosting the cinema of Central America and the Caribbean. The works-in-progress showcased every year since always offer a nice cross-section of these booming film industries. With their partnership with Marché du Film, IFF Panama has been able to bring their Primera Mirada projects to the Cannes market at the most prestigious film festival in the world. Which is to say, here’s where your next favorite movies from the region make their first stop. It’s where Cocote and Noche de Calypso first emerged last year as must-see events.
Out of 67 projects submitted this year – a submission spike of almost 50% – the five chosen projects in 2018 exemplify the variety of work being done in the region. They include two music docs, two drama features, as well as an omnibus film with segments set in six different countries during a region-wide blackout. Find all of them below and commit their titles to memory as they’re sure to be making waves in the next year as they find distribution and make their way to festivals around the world.
In the busy streets of San Jose, Costa Rica, a motorcycle courier comes to the realization that things don’t happen out of nowhere. Surrounded by his coworkers and in the midst of big layoffs, Mancha will have to decide between his careless existence on the streets or life on a small island without his bike but in the company of his girlfriend, the only person that seems to understand him.
Pólvora en el corazón
Claudia and Maria, newly in love, roam the streets of the city of Guatemala. Claudia works at a call center and is uninterested in the world around her. She lives with her activist grandfather, who tries to persuade her to join his cause. Maria, unlike Claudia, is more spontaneous and lives with her mother in the outskirts of the city. The chaotic streets are filled with common stories of abuse, unforgiving police officers, and charming secret corners. Everything changes one night when they are attacked by three men. Although they manage to escape, Claudia is faced with the dilemma of choosing revenge or listening to her grandfather’s advice.
En la caliente
En La Caliente tells the story of reggaeton and how it has become Cuba’s most genuine form of expression against the current political scenario. The film shows us a generation that has become excluded from opportunities, access to work and power, and who have a desire to express their freedom through dance and music. A new generation of musicians who have to confront their traditions and the political conflict that seizes Cuba.
Días de luz
A solar storm wreaks havoc in Central America. In each of the countries affected by the storm, people’s daily lives are affected as they must face life’s challenges without the technology we’ve come to depend on. Fear, friendship and love blossom as people come together. This omnibus film boasts six different directors who each tell the story of what happens when the blackout hits Panamá, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
During the 70s and 60s, a record store located in the 5 de Mayo plaza was the main meeting place for music lovers. Dashing men and women who would come here to dance to the rhythms of José José, Tito Puente, La Lupe, Leonardo Favio, Celia Cruz y Santana. This is the story of a musical journey through the golden years of a store, where clients and salespeople, who were beguiled by the sound of vinyl records, ponder their legacy